5-Speeds-3 Speed Brownie-2 Speed Axle…….#20 (the 50’s)

Lumber Truck Delivery

He heard the loud sound of a well-worn muffler expelling its resonant breaking the silence that prevailed in the neighborhood.    What truck would it be? echoed a thought.  The Reo,  the White or maybe the Mack.   It didn’t matter to Mike,  what did matter was Dad fulfilling his promise and was coming by the house to  pick  him up.   Last night he had told his son he would be hauling a load of lumber to Orinda and would  stop by the house so he could ride with him to make the delivery.

The Interbay lumber truck with Mike aboard traveled onto Mountain Blvd.,  heading north for nine miles to the junction with Tunnel Road and the approach to the Caldecott Tunnel.   Looking about the cab of the truck,  the boy saw three operating controls not found in an automobile that made a lasting impressions.   First was the lever fastened above the drivers window,  when pulled,   operated the mechanical turn signal arm mounted on the driver’s side of the cab.  The second noticeable object was a rope with a weighted knob hanging from the roof of the cab.  It operated the air horn.   The third  was three separate gear shifts.   Two gear shifts  mounted in the center of the floorboard,  and one mounted more toward the passenger seat  side.  Mike watched as his Dad double clutched and shifted the non-synchromesh gears,  utilizing the gear shift for the 5 speed.  The other gear shift was called a brownie and had three shift positions.  The positions,  Under,  Direct,  or Over could be used in combination with any of the normal 5 speeds allowing three gear changes  for each speed.   The third lever was a two-speed axle and enable an over/under drive separate from the transmission.   It didn’t take Mike long to understand shifting options and the operating principles of the  truck transmission.

(L – R) 3 speed brownie – 5 speed gear shift – 2 speed axle

The Caldecott Tunnel

For some reason Mike found that even adults like to blow their horn when entering a tunnel.   Sounding a truck’s air horn is even better.   The bellowing sound was engaged as the two travelers passed thru the Caldecott Tunnel.    Orinda was a small rural town like Lafayette, Walnut Creek and others on the way to Martinez.   Driving into this small Hamlet  they located the job site with rows of new tract homes under construction.  His Dad backed the truck in,  placed the 2×4 stickers on the ground for the load to fall on,  loosened the ropes,  maneuvered  forward then shifting into reverse, backing up locking the brakes.  The load neatly rolling of the flatbed and onto the sticker that kept the load  from touching the ground.  The lumber successfully delivered,  with tie-down ropes properly stored,  the twosome embarking for Oakland.

500 series Earth Scraper

Dad never claimed to be a truck driver,  he always referred to himself as a teamster.    Mike was relatively sure his Dad never drove a team of horses,  but what he did discern  was his Dad’s natural ability to  operate any heavy-duty vehicle equipment.   He recalled his Dad speaking of being stationed at Fort Riley Kansas during the second world war and mentioning the twin Cadillac V8 engines that powered the M5 tank he was trained to operate, before advancing to M4 Sherman.    He also recalled his Dad working construction and operating heavy-duty equipment including the Giant Caterpillar 500 Series Earth Scrapers,  his Dad’s skill and talent for operating equipment was very evident to his son.

Home again from his trip to Orinda the boy reasoned,  time spent going somewhere or riding in the truck was of  little any value, but  the companionship and being with his Father was priceless because it was a time just for them.


5 Responses to “5-Speeds-3 Speed Brownie-2 Speed Axle…….#20 (the 50’s)”

  1. online dating Says:

    I wouldn’t say I agree 100% regarding some issues, but you sure got an interesting point of view. Anyway, I enjoy the quality you add to the blogosphere and that this isn’t just another abandoned, made-for-adsense blog! Take care…

    • gwillson7 Says:

      Thank you for your comment. I enjoy reliving and writing about those events. I don’t expect agreement from everyone.

      Take care……………….Gary


    Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

  3. Daron Says:

    I have pictures of a truck in the mid 50’s delivering lumber to my grandparents new home in Orinda California. Fun for me to think this load could have been delivered to there home.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: